Skyy Power FM: Voice for the voiceless in Ghana
Samuel Kojo Brace says the best part of his job is the opportunity to speak for the voiceless. He works for Skyy Power FM, a popular radio station based in Sekondi-Takarati, the capital of Ghana’s Western Region and the centre of Ghana’s massive mining industry. Every day, sitting in a small production studio with his headphones on, he broadcasts to the city he loves, and talks to ordinary people about the problems of everyday life.
“There are a lot of people in our area who have a lot of issues,” he says. “But who is to speak for them? I am coming from a marginalized community. A lot of the times here, there are very bad stories about the mining communities, but we need to tell our side of the story. The love to speak of my people drew me closer to radio.”
Farm Radio International (FRI) partnered with Skyy Power FM on a project designed to encourage citizens of the Western Region to get involved with issues of mining governance and sustainable economic development. So now, every Saturday, Mr. Brace hosts Yen Mpuntuo, which means “Our Progress” in the local Twi language.
Mr. Brace has always been active in public discourse. His love of current events and the news ignited his desire to work in radio. But even he was largely unaware of the conditions surrounding Ghana’s mining industry until he began working on the project with FRI. Now he realizes the importance of talking about the issue.
“We’re talking about solutions to the problems around us,” he says. “Because of this show, I have to be reading about the mining industry all the time, because the idea is that we need to talk to people who are [living in] mining areas. So this is a good program telling us in mining communities our responsibilities as well, and how we can demand accountability from our local authorities.”
Mr. Brace says the most important aspect of making the radio show enjoyable for listeners is engagement. Rather than listening to him talk on and on, listeners want to add their own voices to the discussion, and call in to share their opinions. Radio should stimulate discussion, and that’s how he’s approaching Yen Mpuntuo.
He believes the program has been a great success so far. He is encouraged by the feedback his station has received and he’s become personally invested in the cause.
Beyond learning more about the mining sector, Mr. Brace says that working with Farm Radio has helped him improve his professional skills. When FRI delivered an in-station training, the trainers discussed the VOICE standards, and he’s been applying the lessons he learned to all his programming.
The VOICE Standards for farmer programs emphasize that programs should value women and men small-scale farmers; give opportunities for farmers to speak and be heard; provide the information farmers need when they need it; be consistent and convenient; and be entertaining.
“You have to value your listeners; you have to engage them,” says Mr. Brace. “Communication is a two-way affair. It’s not just you speaking at them. And that’s why you find in all our content, you have the opportunity for listeners to be calling in. They feel involved, and that’s what drives the show.”